» Monday, August 2, 2004

IPPR Report

Asked if the Government was concerned about the IPPR’s report in which had been suggested that the poverty gap had widened since 1997, the PMS said that it was important to put the report into context. For example, the report also acknowledged that progress had been made in particular in dealing with the problem of child poverty. That said, it was clear that there was still more work to be done. We were expecting a Social Exclusion Unit report on similar issues to be published in the near future. Asked if it was the Government’s objective to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, the PMS said that it was the Government’s objective to have a fair society.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Pity they won’t say what they mean by a ‘fair society’. Communists and Capitalists both believe that their objective is a fair society.

    I know what socialists believe and that used to mean I understood what the Labour party was trying to do. Now they seem to act more Thatcherite than Thatcher, and no-one could accuse her of being fair!

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 2 Aug 2004 on 7:09 pm | Link
  2. Nobody likes to directly use the words "take from rich, give to poor". I find the comment to be nothing more than the usual, roundabout way of making that statement without affecting the people who fund your party, or driving them into the laps of the Tory party.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 2 Aug 2004 on 7:47 pm | Link
  3. Why does everyone assume that people with more money would oppose paying more tax? While some may argue that there may be a connection between getting rich and not having any morals, I think its wrong to believe that ethics/politics are dictated by the amount of money there is in your bank account.

    Capitalism is based on the belief that the selfish response will always overide anything else. Socialists believe that people are altruistic and so will give of themselves to help others.

    If people are selfish then they will vote Tory anyway because they are the only party saying they will cut taxes. I feel Labour would gain support by announcing a clear policy of wealth redistribution. They could also point out that they would not be increasing tax for 90% of the population, just the 10% that now have over 50% of the wealth in this country. I don’t see how promising 90% of the country they would be better off could be seen as a vote loser?

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 2 Aug 2004 on 8:08 pm | Link
  4. No argument with paying tax, it just needs spending effectivley, not on wars with defenceless nations like Iraq, or on public services that don’t serve the public. Capitalism is based on the belief that people are naturally competitive, just like other animals, and this competiveness should be channelled to benefit society as a whole.

    PS. are the Blocks related?

    Comment by Colonel Mad — 2 Aug 2004 on 9:19 pm | Link
  5. You do not seem to understand the simple fact about LIFE!.All the thing`s mankind want`s and need`s will never be addressed all because of one simple fact HUMAN NATURE.It has alway`s been thus it will alway`s be so.We may one day evolve into something higher then we are today but given (we are told)only about six billion year`s left before the our sun start`s to die I tend to think we will run out of time!.

    Comment by george dutton — 3 Aug 2004 on 2:52 am | Link
  6. Somehow George I think you are missing the point. Are you talking about human nature on the part of the government, in that they have a bit of power and so abuse it? Or are you talking human nature on the part of the poor people who would like to see more of a contribution from the stupidly wealthy?

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 3 Aug 2004 on 8:15 am | Link
  7. I knew you would be back (but I had no proof) L.O.L.In answer to your question.There is no such being`s as politicians.They are doctor`s and nurse`s administering a hospice for the terminally ill.All the human race is in this hospice suffering from an illness called human nature some are FAR more ill then other`s.The job decrepitation of all the doctor`s and nurses is"keep the hospice running as best they can" as there`s no cure for this condition.Then we all find out that all the doctor`s and nurse`s are suffering from a more acute form of human nature then the patients they are looking after and we are all shocked by this.

    Comment by george dutton — 3 Aug 2004 on 9:48 am | Link
  8. Ok, now I’m with you (I think). If I’m understanding you, you are talking much more conceptually than just this particular issue. I’d have to agree that the lunatics are definitely running the asylum; rather than sorting the messy issues of the country out and making people’s lives run more smoothly, our government(s) are actually directly responsible for some shockingly bad pieces of judgement which become policy and law, making people’s lives more dangerous, more worrying, more stressful & of course more expensive than they have any need to be. And mostly in the name of self-interest and vested interests, badly disguised as "much needed improvements" or "overdue reform". There is only one reform which is overdue, long overdue, and I predict it will carry on being overdue for a long time to come. And that is reform of our system of government itself.

    Tony Blair often advocates radical reform, but most of his "reforms" are just papering over cracks which have been papered over many many times in the past, to the point that the central issue has long since been forgotten. As a for instance; parents punishing children. The wishy-washy liberals and bleeding-heart do-gooders who have fought long and hard for society to be "softer" are to blame for today’s lack of social conscience and bad behaviour among the young, not the 60s flower-power generation. And bringing in legislation to stop parents corporally punishing children (as if that will stop abuse!) serves only to blur the line further.

    This, of course, allows capitalism to take it’s ugly course, bringing into play the self-serving vested interests. Before long we will have further legislation to issue every child with fingers (or a tongue) a mobile phone, and there will be 24 hour call-centres for child abuse reporting. "Did your mam just smack your arse for being a little shit? If you have the red hand mark, you could make a no win, no fee claim…" etc. Charged at \xA31 a second, of course. Exaggeration, but you get my drift.

    Far be it from the government and all of it’s think tanks and so-called "experts" (funded as they are by millions, if not billions, of taxpayers money) to actually examine the problem and come up with a real answer. Like, the fact that society has become not far short of lawless isn’t actually down to hippy throwbacks from the 60s but to far too much government interference in everyday life. If successive governments weren’t too busy looking out for who they offend – not the electorate, I don’t mean, but the people to whom they (politicians, civil servants) have made promises or compromises (usually people with influence, power and money) – then maybe society wouldn’t be in such a mess, generally.

    For instance, instead of giving teenagers the right to have abortions without even the parents being informed, or allowing 14 year old girls to have babies which interfere with their schooling and cost money (taxpayers again), why not say NO! If you can’t support a child, you can’t have one. None of this "it’s my right to have a baby" bollocks; a baby is only your right if it is not a burden on society. There is enough starvation in the world without children spitting out offspring for such trivial reasons. If you are too far gone for abortion, the baby will be taken away at birth – there are enough people who would love to adopt or foster; why allow a drain on society and then SUPPORT it?!?!

    But such a sensible course of action (and I know I’m inviting a huge argument there, but isn’t that the idea?!?!) is beyond such people. Not because it isn’t obvious; I think it is. But rather because the opportunity to head opposition groups is great publicity for some. Because there are more jobs for the boys doing it the government way. Etc. In short, because it creates jobs, falsely stimulates parts of the economy, and gives the government more facts and figures to play with, use to hide other, more important issues, and justify the boys’ jobs.

    But as I said earlier, the only really REALLY overdue reform is reform of our whole system of government. Following on from Georges discourse on the second house, of course it should be elected, not God given by right or inheritance. But of course, the election process needs more safeguards than any government in office would ever allow to be built in. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Look at the Parliamentary system in general. How old is it? 200, 250, 300 years? It was originally used at a time when communication was impossible or slow; roads were non-existent or bad; transport was slow; the population was much smaller and more spread out; etc. In those days it made sense to have an MP to represent the "interests" of the people in his constituency. The fact that MPs then were just as self-serving as they are today is of little relevance. It made some kind of sense then.

    Now it doesn’t. Transport and communication are much easier, much faster and in some cases almost instantaneous. The population is so widely and densely spread that constituency boundaries are constantly being redrawn (usually for political gain, but that’s not for here!) We have the Internet, mobile phones, text messaging and so on. Democracy means literally "the voice of the people" – now that the "voice" of the people can be heard almost in real time, why is the government not using this to it’s advantage? Answer; because it’s NOT to it’s advantage. Direct democracy is a threat to the power of the few, and therefore will never happen without considerable social revolution. Same as reform of the upper house.

    The thing that gets me, though, is that for all the "government" (the present one, I mean) has a bigger payroll than ever with all the hangers on, contractors, sub-contractors, civil servants, beaurocrats, bosses, experts, directors of this, that and the other, and so on, it is constantly and stealthily farming a lot of people-intensive jobs out. Consider tax; now you have to do it yourself, on the Internet or by post. Why? I haven’t heard of loads of tax people getting the boot. Have they? Or are they now doing other things, trying to keep up with a system which is so creaky it’s a wonder the government manages to collect a penny? Incidentally, isn’t it great that you get fined, with interest, if you are late? When did the government turn into British Government PLC.? So why do we have to do stuff ourselves which once upon a time our tax paid to get done (including the collection of the tax itself!)? The government takes tax from us, but WE have to work out how much, and get heavily (and speedily) penalised if we get it wrong or are late?!?! Am I missing something here?!

    IMHO, it’s time for some real reform. If we have to take such an active part in allowing the government to get on with it’s day to day job, why don’t we take some more pressure off them by helping with the actual decision-making process? Hoist them with their own petards? After all, it IS supposed to be a democracy. There are MANY ways to make this work. If it’s possible to keep tabs on every car in the country just so they can extort a few more quid out of someone, is it not also possible for a system of democratic government whereby the technology our society has allowed us to develop can be used to give the electorate a greater say? I await arguments to the contrary!

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 3 Aug 2004 on 10:46 am | Link
  9. Papa, as you have raised a number of issues I won’t try to tackle them all – some I agree with you, some I don’t.

    On your point of direct democracy, my argument against it revolves around the problem of a ‘tyranny of the majority’ or in more common terms ‘mob-rule’. Many political theorists have wrestled with the problem that just because most people (or more correctly most of the people that vote) want it doesn’t mean it should happen. There are many examples to illustrate this point, the most striking being the Nazis in Germany. They were democratically elected in the first place. They then acted to attack various minorities – jews, communists, gypsies etc etc – and every act removed opposition and increased their majority. The end result would have been that the only people with any ‘freedom’ would have been those people who wanted to do what the Nazis wanted them to do. The majority gradually destroys minorities, anyone ‘different’ is discriminated against.

    You can also look at the experience of non-jews in Israel, non-muslims in Iran, anti-war campaigners in the US two years ago, black people in South Africa ten years ago, etc etc.

    Any attempt at democracy has to decide who gets to have a say and how to protect the minority. In this country we have the liberal intelectuals to thank for equality and human rights legislation that mean that we have some protection against tyranny of the majority.

    I agree that our system is not perfect but any attempts to improve it must not lose the benefits of our system.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 3 Aug 2004 on 11:58 am | Link
  10. You both fail to get it.Let me put it to you this way. There are MANY in this world that DON`T care about anyone else but themselves.If it were possible to create a perfect world there are many who would want to destroy it.It does not suit them,they want there EGOS to be feed by being better then anyone else.They want to be Gods and want the power.As Mussiline said "given the choice of spending one day as a Lion or a lifetime as a lamb I would choose to be a lion".You have to share this world with many who do not want what you want they don`t care if millions/billion`s die because of war,starvation or anything else.So what do you do with these people shoot them!!! they would only be replaced by other`s.Can you not see if there were a way to have what you want we would have found it by now.That`s why mankind is in the mess he`s in and will remain in a mess.The only thing you can do is try and keep it all going as best you can and HOPE it won`t get worse.

    Comment by george dutton — 3 Aug 2004 on 1:33 pm | Link
  11. (No relation. At least, not unless he happens to have been born and raised in a trailer park in Wisconsin.)

    The problem with modern democracy is as it always was: people spend a lot of time sitting around on their arse talking about it, but few people actually do anything about it.

    If you care, take up the gauntlet. Do something in your local community to educate people on the issues. Run a website. Take a stand. Do something; anything.

    That’s when democracy works; it’s when it worked in the past, and it’s when it works today. The downfall of modern democracy can be directly linked to the lack of involvement of the people in it; and as the numbers at the polls drop, the impetus of the political parties to do the bidding of the people vanishes – endless miles of sowing the "middle ground" in the hopes of sounding bland enough to get Ma and Pa Kettle to put down their pitchforks and make their blank, po-faced votes, devoid of any true interest in what happens after that party is in power.

    The use of votes as political statement – the election of blatantly fascist parties, etc. – is one of the best examples of people who just don’t care thinking that their vote doesn’t matter; that their vote means so little that they can use it as a way to deliver a message, rather than a way to actually get something done.

    That’s the sad fact of today: People think voting sends a message; in reality, voting sends a person into government, a person who will follow their political agenda and catalyze change of some kind. If you don’t like the change that person would create, only a fool would vote for that person – and yet, it happens every day.

    That’s the real problem with modern democracy. Us. We get what we ask for, and we get exactly what we deserve. If you don’t like it, get off your duff and stop being a media-eating automaton.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 3 Aug 2004 on 3:22 pm | Link
  12. First you have to find people that don`t care about themselves but care about other`s.Second you have to find honest people.Thirdly you have to find people that can fend off all the lies that other`s will throw at them.Fourthly you have to convince all the people that everything you do is in there best interest. Problem is a lot of people don`t care what`s in the best interest of all the people only what`s in there own interest and fair shares all round means less for them they want there own share and your`s and everbody else`s as well.It`s called HUMAN NATURE not all human`s do these thing`s but unfortunately too many do to have the society that so many want.

    Comment by george dutton — 4 Aug 2004 on 1:46 am | Link
  13. Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s were no more or less likely to behave in their own personal best interests. And yet, for America, that was clearly the golden age of democracy, when involvement was at its highest.

    Democracy doesn’t require a bunch of selfless Deanna Troi clones screaming "I feel your pain" in three inch stilletos. It just requires people who A) believe that their vote is important, and B) understand enough about issues they care about to weigh the possible individuals up for election and choose the one that actually stands for those issues.

    A) is pretty gone in most. B) is clouded through the difficulties of information overload in modern media, and the tendency for politicians to spin doctor everything and anything that passes out of their mouths.

    But pretending that Democracy requires altruism is wrong – what you’re thinking of is Utopia, not a republic of any kind I’ve ever seen, heard, read, or learned about. And you’re right, Utopia is a ridiculous goal, for all of the reasons you’ve said.

    That isn’t a reason not to vote, though, or to assume that voting is some kind of electoral postal system for delivering vague and easily misinterpreted messages to an out of touch political system.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 4 Aug 2004 on 10:02 pm | Link
  14. What you say is right.That is why I said "you as an individual can only do YOUR best to keep the whole thing going"(or as you see it!). You can do no more.That is what politicians should do and British one`s on the whole do.But ALL must be catered for somehow or ALL will fall into the abbess.Sometimes we take a step forward,sometimes we take a step back.But the aim is to keep the whole thing going as best we can.

    Comment by george dutton — 4 Aug 2004 on 11:34 pm | Link
  15. You can never cater for all. You can build a set of social safety nets – the NHS for the uninsured, pensions for those without personal savings, housing societies for the homeless or poor, etc. – but you can never be all things to all people.

    That’s not falling into the abyss – that’s what those safety nets are there for. Some governments – the U.S., in particular, offer very little in the way of social protection; other places, like the UK, are strong on health, but weak on housing, and provide relatively good assistance to the poor.

    Pretending that everyone must change is just that – pretending. There will be some people who will always be uninterested in the political system that governs them; more often than not, those other people have bigger problems to deal with than who is going to sit in government, and hand on that responsibility to their neighbours while they struggle desperately to solve their day-to-day nightmare. Others are wealthy, have moved all of their unprotected funds offshore, and are happy to leave the electoral system to those who are actually at risk of being impacted by it; their accountants will tell them what they need to do to avoid being under the thumb of the UK government.

    You can never cater to those extremes; not politically. Politically, those people are nonexistent, unreachable. You may be able to assist the former; and too many politicians are only too willing to provide unneeded assistance to the latter.

    That middle ground make up the other 98% of us – people who are reachable, have issues that a government of the day can assist in providing solutions for, or will take an interest in politics if given the right issue to do so on. Many of us know what our buttons are, and are only too willing to sit and watch the politicians push them; lack of self-awareness is what makes marketing and PR work in the first place, a lack of understanding of why it is we ourselves do things when we’re told to in specific ways.

    This isn’t a hopeless case; it doesn’t mean changing the world. It means changing you. If you changing yourself doesn’t affect those around you, then there’s nobody around you who’s paying any attention to you, quite frankly – you always change the world around you by changing yourself. Changing you does change the world, for better or worse – it does so through identity and through example to others around you; and for those who use you as a role-model, you have a responsibility to be the best role-model you can be.

    That’s the best kind of politics. The ones that are a positive part of your identity, the ones that are passed on by example to those around you. Those political ideas which change you are the same issues with the potential of changing the world, one person at a time.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 9 Aug 2004 on 3:25 pm | Link
  16. Gregory safety net`s don`t alway`s work.I hope you NERVER have to find that out the hard way!.

    Comment by george dutton — 10 Aug 2004 on 2:25 am | Link
  17. Nothing "always" works. I lived my whole life under the safety net in the U.S.; the belief that a safety net can be built which will catch everyone is an untenable illusion.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 Aug 2004 on 7:14 pm | Link

    Comment by george dutton — 11 Aug 2004 on 9:29 am | Link
  19. (if you’re going to choose to agree with me, it’s important to recognize that I disagree with you. 🙂

    Other than that, I accept your wholehearted endorsement of my opinion, and hope that you’ll vote for me when I run for parliament in… oh, I imagine it’ll be another hundred years before foreigners like me get granted citizenship. 🙂

    Comment by Gregory Block — 11 Aug 2004 on 11:17 am | Link
  20. I must admit Gregory the way you try and twist other people`s word`s around/about you should run for parliament you would I think feel at home!.

    Comment by george dutton — 14 Aug 2004 on 8:25 pm | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


August 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Jul   Sep »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh